Friday, September 24, 2004
Days of Awe
Today's a Chinese Fire Drill Day, in that something has suddenly popped up that needed to be done yesterday, and that the truly appropriate people who should be tasked with doing this have managed to fob it off on me, therefore I really have to buckle down this morning and get it done, as I really, really want to be done before Yom Kippur starts, and I don't want it hanging over my head until Monday.
I'm not terribly comfortable with the Yom Kippur services I attend. Logistics dictate a Reform temple for me, and frankly, although the rabbi isn't a bad sort (although I really dislike his admiration of certain liberal icons), the services seem so watered down I don't feel any specifically Jewish connection with them. Lots of prayers in English, and a lot of repetition, one huge pet peeve with me. There's an old story where someone asks why a religious scholar prays so quickly, yet studies so slowly, and the scholar answers, "When I pray, I'm talking to God. When I study, God talks to me". That hugely resonates with me for some reason, in that as I take stock of myself and ask forgiveness in these Days of Awe, I don't think God particularly cares whether the service is exquisitely choreographed with choirs and soloists and choral speaking. I think God cares whether the person truly atones for his or her sins, and does so honestly and humbly. The setting isn't what matters. Another story is that at one nightfall, an observant, but unlearned man found himself without a prayer book, and said, "Dear God, I don't have my prayer book, but since you know all prayers, I'll recite the alphabet tonight, and you can form them into the prayers for me". God found that supplication more worthy than all other prayers that day for its simple honesty and humility. Trappings of services and wrapping oneself in holy garb doesn't necessarily make one a better person. Remember, the problem is never God, it's the fan club.
To all, my best wishes.....